Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Finally: The Sea Wall / This Angry Age - in Italian!

A fond childhood memory was the 1958 Rene Clement film THE SEA WALL, also known as THIS ANGRY AGE, which I saw when about 12 and it was very vivid and impressive, but it never appeared anywhere since and seemed to be a totally lost film, but a pal of mine from the IMDb site whom I meet every few months for drinks, chat and swopping rare movies, found a copy - but its in Italian!. Well all the leads speak English so maybe there is an English print out there somewhere - but its been totally fascinating to see it again now 50 odd years later !

It starts with the camera descending over the Thai locations, including temples and other exotic buildings, as the story, by Marguerite Duras, unfolds on the plantation of tough Jo Van Fleet (nice to see her looking herself for a change, and not aged as in EAST OF EDEN or WILD RIVER) who is trying to keep the ocean from encroaching on her land, but its a losing battle. Her teenage children - Silvana Mangano and Tony Perkins - have their own ideas about the future, as the mother tries every ruse to keep going, including trying to get Mangano interested in businessman Nehemiah Persoff, but then Richard Conte comes on the scene ... Perkins meanwhile moves to the city and picks up (or get picked up by) Alida Valli in a cinema! Its a terrific scene, and I like her snazzy automobile too. Back at the plantation things get worse ...

1958 was a good year for Perkins - (relaxing with Mangano, above) he went on to Sophia Loren and DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS next (and THE MATCHMAKER), and Silvana headed another De Laurentiis spectacular THE TEMPEST which I also liked a lot at the time and again it never surfaced again, but I got a copy last year and commented on it on here, and Rene Clement of course went on to make that complex classic PLEIN SOLEIL from the enduring Highsmith Ripley tale [there is a separate post on it here]. It would be nice if these De Laurentiis films were re-issued now - like Ponti with Loren he featured his wife Mangano in his international co-productions (like ULYSSES, MAMBO, TEMPEST, FIVE BRANDED WOMEN etc) which all have fascinating casts and production values, as per my comments on here.

Good though to get to see THE SEA WALL again after so long, even if its dubbed into Italian! I love the scenes with Perkins and Mangano dancing, and that cinema scene with Valli! Duras's novel (with its original self-explaining title "Barrage Contre le Pacific" was recently remade as a French film starring Isabelle Huppert, which I think I will have see now.


  1. Just to let you know: the national film archives of Italy mandates that "international co-productions" with Italian participation MUST be preserved with the Italian soundtrack. This sometimes leads to absurdities, such as Antonioni's I VINTI, which was made in three parts, each part in a different language (French, English and Italian) being preserved in an all-Italian dubbed version. So i suspect that the print of BARRAGE CONTRE LE PACIFIQUE which now circulates is the one from Cinecitta Holding, the Italian film archive. One must presume that Dino De Laurentiis has a print of the English-language version (which is the preferred version, as Perkins, Van Fleet, Richard Conte, Nememiah Persoff all being Americans, and Valli and Mangano both speaking English - Mangano's parentage was half-English, and, according to her granddaughter Giada De Laurentiis, Mangano maintained the tradition of afternoon tea).

  2. I fist took notice of Anthony Perkins in 'Phaedra' of 1962 starring with Melina Mercouri. What an excellent movie and what a handsome man. Have you ever seen this film? Some people adore it and some hate it.